01 December, 2009

Relevance of a faith that is timeless

Speaking Tree, The Times of India

Deepam Chatterjee

Young people today engaged in self-exploration are looking for inner peace. They question the relevance of rituals and religious practices. Religion needs to be reinterpreted to suit the context of modern times; otherwise today's youth might lose faith in Sanatana Dharma - the timeless faith.

The hallmark of Hindu tradition has been its great capacity to adapt itself to the lifestyles of people without losing its identity, and helping seekers focus on attaining the transcendent absolute.

One may ask, who then is a true Hindu? A real Hindu is one who searches for the Ultimate Truth and relentlessly pursues answers to questions such as, 'Who is God? Who am i? What is my purpose? How to know God? What is the Ultimate Truth?'

A true Hindu firmly believes in allowing every human being to search for God in his or her own way; to freely experiment with various practices and rituals to suit one's personal needs and temperament.

The inquiry into the nature of God and self, and the practices thereof could be termed as the Hindu way of life. The ultimate aim of a Hindu is God-realisation through the spiritual practices he adopts. It is a way of life which respects and accepts all paths to self-realisation.

What is commonly referred to as Hinduism is the collective wisdom of many great seers and sages as opposed to the teachings of a single teacher. It is more a group of faiths, somewhat connected by a set of scriptures and a pantheon. Hinduism has no universally accepted scriptural doctrine or uniformity of worship and it is impossible to define in a set of parameters, having no common practices, rites or rituals. Unlike many other faiths, Hinduism refuses to sanction the monopoly of one God, one spiritual practice, or one scripture as the One and Only way to liberation.

Hinduism is based upon the qualities of acceptance, absorption, continuous change and expansion. It is thus a dynamic, living, ever-growing set of ideas, rituals and spiritual practices. It incorporates constant acceptance and freedom of thought for all other Religions of the World.

One cannot be 'converted' to Hinduism. For every other religion, there are 'rites of baptism'. Hindus consider that everyone is naturally on a journey to reach a higher awareness through the cycle of birth and death; and that the soul continuously reincarnates to experience Karmas - the effects of actions performed in earlier incarnations. This is something automatic.

In a way, everyone who is trying to explore their divinity is practising Hinduism.

Hinduism is a way of life and does not conflict with any religion for it is simply the commitment to search for the truth. One does not have to give up one's religious identity to follow Hindu practices.

The greatness of Hinduism lies in its infinite capacity of acceptance and allowance. As long as an individual is mindful of 'raising consciousness' - of self, community, and humanity as a whole, one is following tenets of Hindu religion.

This has been termed as 'Shreya' - the essence of the Hindu way of life, in a single word.

From the introduction to 'The Timeless Faith - Dialogues on Hinduism' by the writer.


1 comment:

Tarun Weekly! said...

A very nice Introduction, Mr. Deepak.

I had a good read. Also i would like to get your view on the Holy Gita when you say that there is no uniform scripture of doctrine; and Monopoly of One God. Does tht Signify tht Hinduism is a Religion with many Gods. Or tht you meant that GOD permeates through all these different gods. Thanks. :-)